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Jun 10, 2008

5 Things That Become Easier When You Wake Up Early

This post is part of the Better Sleep series.  Be sure to sign up for RSS or email updates to catch the entire series of articles.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a night owl if you’re doing it for all the right reasons, but when you focus on getting better sleep and waking up early you tap into a number of benefits that most people don’t get by staying up late.  Busy workdays often lead to weary evenings, and in the rush to keep up important things can fall by the wayside.  It’s not easy for anyone to keep it all balanced, but waking up early can give you a definite advantage when it comes to getting more of what you want out of life.  Let’s look at 5 things that get easier when you give waking up early a chance.

#1 – It’s Easier To Feel Good About Your Day

Most of us live lives that are pretty damned busy.  Sometimes way, way too busy.  Because of that, it’s easy to be frazzled, hurried and stressed when you wake up after hitting the snooze button and realize that you have to hit the ground running if you hope to get going in time.  That rushed feeling doesn’t go away easily for most of us, and we carry that stress throughout the day (and night).  But when you wake up early, you get to start the day on your own terms.  You get time to “warm up,” to let your thoughts settle, and relax before it’s time to spring into action. You get to be proactive – rather than reactive, which gives you a greater feeling of control (and cuts your stress during the day).

#2 – It’s Easier To Keep Your Life Balanced

The greatest thing about waking up early is that almost nobody else does. :-)   This means you have a chunk of time where you’re likely to be free of interruptions and demands – and you can finally do some things for yourself (for a change!).  The things you’ve been putting off – exercise, journaling, reading, relaxing, attending to your personal or spiritual growth – these are all things that you can start making time for “under the radar” of a day that crouches in wait with infinite urgencies and demands.  By setting aside a slice of your day for you, a more balanced life becomes something you’re actually working for, rather than hoping for.

#3 – It’s Easier To Sleep Well At Night

When you know that the next morning will give you a chance to meet the day on your own terms, and that you’ll have an opportunity to bring more balance to your life, you’ll feel a lot better when you put your head down on the pillow.  You won’t feel so rushed, so overwhelmed, so running behind … and you’ll be able to relax more at the end of the day, knowing progress awaits in the morning.  And while that’s not a guaranteed cure for insomnia or other sleep disorders, it certainly can’t hurt.

#4 – It’s Easier to Stay Focused And Productive

This is a given (and that’s why it’s towards the bottom of the list).  Tasks tend to expand to meet whatever time limits we set for them, and that can be dangerous late at night, when you’re geared up to “just work a little longer ’till it’s done.”  But when you block out time in the morning to do something, the deadline becomes more real.  You’ve got to get a task done before the kids get up, or before it’s time to go to work, and you hustle more to get it done.  You resist distraction and stay more focused.  And that’s a good thing to have going for you.

#5 – It’s Easier to … (you fill in the blank)

The “teaser” post for the Better Sleep series received a lot of great comments from all of you, and I’d love to hear more.  If you’re an early riser already, add to the list via the comments below.  If you’re an early riser-in-training, comment on what you’re planning to “make easier” when you start meeting the day on your own terms.  And if you need some help waking up early, click here to get it.

Waking up early isn’t as grueling as most people think – but there are some very real obstacles, which I’ll discuss in the next post, Why Waking Up Early Can Be So Hard. Sign up for RSS or email updates and don’t miss a post in the Better Sleep series.

20 Responses to “5 Things That Become Easier When You Wake Up Early”

  • Jun 10, 2008 Steph

    I tried it today: I got up with my husband as he prepared for work, two hours or so earlier than I normally rise! And you know what? I was okay with it. Probably because it was so light out and there was a nice breeze. This morning was a good morning. And it’s STILL morning! That’s so far what I love best. More time.

    The only thing I don’t like is that I seem to have increased my appetite by waking earlier! I normally don’t eat until lunch if not later. It’s only 11:30 now and I’ve already had to eat twice. At least it’s been mostly fruit…

    Look forward to reading more, Dave!

    Steph’s last blog post..does writing have to be positive in some way to be beneficial?

  • Jun 10, 2008 Mark R. Reif at Reif Group Mediations

    #5 – It is easier to: Live your life to the fullest potential possible. If you have planned for what you want to accomplish during the day, you end the day with a sense of accomplishment, knowing you got the most possible out of the time available. There’s none of the, “Damn, I still have to do x, y, and z. There just isn’t enough time unless I stay up later and I’ll still probably only get ‘x’ done”. You end the day with a sense of accomplishment. You are more pleased with yourself, with those around you, and you know you have done the best you can for your clients”.

    I still don’t have this getting up early every morning down to a science. I’m working at it. I KNOW I can do it. I just have to engage my will power and get the practice as a natural part of my life so I can enjoy my life AND my work. Life should not be an entire day of work, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed. And that’s what happens to me every time I go back to working until 1 or 2 AM in the morning and getting up at 10 or 11 AM in the morning. I WILL accomplish the getting up early habit. I WILL! I WILL! (As you can see, I’m working on convincing myself and getting it so that I will feel I failed if I don’t do it!”

    Mark R. Reif??

  • Jun 10, 2008 Brett Legree

    One thing I like to do is sit – with a cup of coffee – on my front porch. There is a swing out there, and some flowers in the flowerbed right beside the swing. That’s when some of my best ideas come to me. My head is clear. And the world is asleep. :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the straw.

  • Jun 10, 2008 Michael Martine

    I find the biggest difference in getting up early only happens if I don’t check my email, comments, and social media feeds. It only benefits me when I use that time to write blog posts for Remarkablogger or lessons for Gateway Blogging.

    Checking messages, etc, is a big waste of that early morning creative time.

    Michael Martine’s last blog post..Overcommitted: Withdrawing from Gateway Blogging

  • Jun 10, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Steph –
    I try to have something light when I first wake up that knocks out that initial appetite but doesn’t weigh me down. Luna bars are a hella tasty way to do it – only ~200 calories but very satisfying.

    @Mark -
    Just take it gradually and you’ll be fine. Setbacks will happen, let them roll off of you & keep at it.

    @Brett -
    It’s nice to have the morning all to yourself, no?

    @MIchael –
    That’s the truth. I have to have a concrete goal in the morning and limit email/feeds/etc. to the first 15 min. only (my ‘warm up’ period).

  • Jun 10, 2008 Michael

    At least six days a week. I wake up somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:30 AM or 5:30 AM. I get pray, meditate, practice the piano, and work out. The best part of this is that I usually get to start my day with well-balanced homemade breakfast. I can’t even put into words the joy and energy I throughout the day. I’m 38 yrs old now and I’ve only been doing this for a year. Too bad it took me this long, but at least I finally learned it.

    BTW, you’re all right don’t mix work. it’ll come. everything in it’s own time. When it’s your morning, be present and enjoy it. When your at work be present and with the quiet confidence knowing that you’ve already done more than most people do all day. Give to yourself first, then you will be able to fully give to your other commitments.

  • Jun 11, 2008 @Stephen Productivity in Context

    These are awesome reasons to get up early, yet so many would rather stay up late watching TV and then struggle out of bed in the morning, only to rush around and lose the ability to be mindful of planning their day.
    Point #2 really hits home for me, and has for years. When I used to work in an office there were times that I’d go in at 6:00 to catch up on paperwork – I could get a week’s worth done in the 2.5 hours that I was there by myself with no interruptions.

    @Stephen Productivity in Context’s last blog post..Experimenting with Podcasting

  • Jun 11, 2008 Nathalie Lussier

    I couldn’t agree more with your view. I often feel the same way, geeting up early certainly helps to lead a more balanced life, you seem to find enough time for everything you always wanted to do.

    Nathalie Lussier’s last blog post..Give and get a massage to feel like a billionaire woman

  • Jun 11, 2008 Nathalie Lussier

    I couldn’t agree more with your view. I often feel the same way, geeting up early certainly helps to lead a more balanced life, you seem to find enough time for everything you always wanted to do.

    Nathalie Lussier’s last blog post..Accepting The Source Of Your Income

  • Jun 14, 2008 James O'Kelly

    Yo Dave. Funny stumbling someone my wife knows. :D

    I would have to say that much of this list is not considering the natural circadian rhythms that people have. It is odd, but in Europe I find myself getting up early, even after being there for several months at a time. In the US however I am a night owl and there isn’t much I can do about it.

  • Sep 7, 2008 Gina

    Aloha Dave, What a great post. I have been a night owl for most of my adult life , started with the kids finally all tucked in and ex-husband off to work and finally a quiet moment …I’d stay up for hours just to feel the peace :) Now it is up with the sun as I live alone and can carve my own peace and quiet.
    A comment to Steph-Sounds like you are concerned about eating more and possibly gaining weight. Relax into the fact that our metabolism is geared to the movement of the sun (not when you rise and sleep) with the highest fire of metabolism happening at noon. The more you eat before noon the more fuel you add to the fire to BURN. It is the late night eating that packs on the pounds so now you will not only be burning more but sleeping during the late night munchies!
    Bon Appetite!

    Gina’s last blog post..Black and white thinking

  • Oct 23, 2008 Cartwright

    How about tips for waking up early when it’s still dark outside, despite the fact the clock reads 7:30? should i hire a muralist to paint an incredibly real sunrise mural on my eastern wall to replicate the rising of the sun? or how about, no matter how early i go to bed, i still end up feeling tired in the morning. i could end up getting 8 hours or more, and still feel tired when that alarm goes off. i swear, i could sleep for 12 hours, and as long as i have to get up early, i’ll feel tired. those tempurpedic things any good? or is it all hype?

  • Aug 18, 2009 Celes | The Personal Excellence Blog

    Waking early has become a key interest for me. Some reasons why -
    - It’s easier to commute to work (lesser traffic)
    - It’s easier to get to appointments on time (more time in the morning for your stuff)
    - It’s easier to be more productive

    Honestly, I recommend everyone to try cultivating the habit of waking early for 3 weeks before concluding if waking early is for them or not. I shared about my experience turning into an early riser, and 9 benefits of doing so here:
    Celes | The Personal Excellence Blog´s last blog ..Update: 21-Day Exercise Trial, Latest Interviews, Guest Posts My ComLuv Profile

  • Sep 7, 2009 shannon

    this is all very interesting to me as i have been a night owl since birth!

    I have one question: what time you do all go to sleep at night that you are able to wake up so early?

  • Sep 19, 2009 Nick

    It really comes down to discipline. There’s no reason that anyone can’t sleep and wake up anytime during a 24 hour period. If you suddenly had to move to Japan tomorrow, the time difference would be hard on your body, but you would get used to it quickly. Shifting your schedule around in your own time zone is no different. I used to stay up all night and sleep very late into the day, sometimes until 1300-1400 hrs. I now go to bed between 1930-2000 and wake up around 0200-0230 and a get a great start on my day. I rotate my schedule because I get bored being awake the same hours of the day. At some point you can wake up earlier and earlier and it becomes late. If I started going to bed and waking up 3 hours earlier, say going to bed around 1600 and waking up around 2300, it would be too difficult to maintain. “Early” and “late” are silly words. It’s like saying my car is “nice” or that building is “big”. You should sleep and wake up whenever makes you feel the best and be the most productive.

  • Nov 9, 2009 tina

    waking up early might be a good opportunity to write and study. I am too likely to get distracted in the afternoon and evening. Thanks for the post!

  • May 16, 2010 Gurpreet Singh

    Hello everybody
    Great posts
    There is a cetain school of thought which says that the 3 hours before sunrise till actual sunrise is like the network of the world is in a slumber and what ever you do and put your mind and body on is achieved rather easily especially the spiritual endeavours.
    Almost all the religions talk very highly about this period and as my uncle answered me once to a question of the importance of getting up early
    he told me that dont ask me such a silly question, its like
    asking why my thirst is satiated with water and hunger is taken care of by the food there is no answer to this to feel the greatness of this time
    you just get up early and youl get your answer automatically.

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